Q-Games founder Dylan Cuthbert has been lending Level Up his perspective on the Japanese games market - about which he has an understanding somewhat more intimate than the average Westerner, having worked at Nintendo among other places - reflecting on the fact games aren't taken as "seriously" as they used to be, and revealing that the downloadable PlayStation Network service "really hasn't caught on".
The latter point, says Cuthbert - whose studio is responsible for the PixelJunk series of games, including PixelJunk Racers (out now on PSN) and the recently announced PixelJunk Monsters - is a reflection of the Japanese "traditional aversion to using credit cards". "Pre-paid cards are definitely the way to go forward to solve these problems, but they only rolled out recently, so we'll just have to wait and see," he says.
Equally interesting is his comment on the status of games compared to other pop culture media. "Videogames used to be taken far more seriously than they are now," he says; "over here the gaming culture was affected adversely by advancing mobile phone tech." That's to do with the latter's lightning advances which put our own mobile phone technologies to shame. "However, the Japanese still think of themselves as a kind of gaming Mecca because they have a few god-like presences," he says. "In reality though, gaming has become less central and more a standard commodity; the Wii and DS have proved this with their huge demographic range. People want to play games, but without the huge investment of time and money games used to take up."
For a little more about Japan, getting the Japanese to embrace strategy games, and a lot about PixelJunk Monsters and Cuthbert's views on experimental games, check out parts one and two of the Dylan Cuthbert interview on Newsweek's Level Up.
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